Cochise College participates in the Community College Survey of Student Engagement ( CCSSE ), a nation-wide survey administered by the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin.

The survey is administered to Community College students and is designed to provide information about student engagement in their learning activities and, to some extent, other activities at the college. Cochise College administered the survey to 72 classes (971 students) selected at random during the spring term, 2017.

When the survey was finished, the Center for Community College Student Engagement sent Cochise College several reports and datasets, including the Key Findings report. Cochise College was benchmarked among our peers who also completed the survey in five key areas of student engagement (the following list was copied from page three of the report).

  • Active and Collaborative Learning. Students learn more when they are actively involved in their education and have opportunities to think about and apply what they are learning in different settings. Through collaborating with others to solve problems or master challenging content, students develop valuable skills that prepare them to deal with real-life situations and problems.

  • Student Effort. Students’ own behaviors contribute significantly to their learning and the likelihood that they will successfully attain their educational goals.

  • Academic Challenge. Challenging intellectual and creative work is central to student learning and collegiate quality. These survey items address the nature and amount of assigned academic work, the complexity of cognitive tasks presented to students, and the rigor of examinations used to evaluate student performance.

  • Student-Faculty Interaction. In general, the more contact students have with their teachers, the more likely they are to learn effectively and to persist toward achievement of their educational goals. Through such interactions, faculty members become role models, mentors, and guides for continuous, lifelong learning.

  • Support for Learners. Students perform better and are more satisfied at colleges that provide important support services, cultivate positive relationships among groups on campus, and demonstrate commitment to their success.

The report indicates that when compared to our peers, Cochise College compared most favorably on these items.

  • Student Effort: Number of books read on your own (not assigned) for personal enjoyment or academic enrichment

  • Support For Learners: Academic advising / planning

  • Support For Learners: Career counseling

  • Student Effort: Peer or other tutoring

  • Student Effort: Skill labs (writing, math, etc.)

On the other hand, we compared least favorably on these items.

  • Active and Collaborative Learning: Worked with classmates outside of class to prepare class assignments

  • Academic Challenge: Number of assigned textbooks, manuals, books, or packets of course readings

  • Academic Challenge: Number of written papers or reports of any length

  • Student Effort: Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, rehearsing, doing homework, or other activities related to your program)

  • Student Effort: Computer lab

One area of interest for me in the report concerns academic advising. Cochise College is working very hard to improve academic advising opportunities for our students but this report indicates that our students report some more positive advising experiences than at our peer institutions, though still with room for improvement. For example, 59.0% of our students reported that they met with an advisor before registering for classes every term, compared to 50.1% for our peer institutions. However, 21.9% reported that they met with an advisor before some terms, compared to 28.6% of our peers.

While it may not be appropriate to aspire to be “just as good as our peers,” the fact is that our peer institutions are finding ways to improve student engagement and that could be a good beacon for our own efforts. There is a good bit of other information in this report, including a section about faculty experiences with advising, and readers may want to download and review it for themselves. Over the next few months I’ll present other findings from the CCSSE.